Dual fuel energy tariffs supply customers with both gas and electricity from the same supplier. These are often easier to manage and usually work out cheaper than getting the two fuels separately.
Business energy tariffs are designed specifically for companies, as opposed to private homes. The sign-up process works slightly differently to personal energy tariffs.
Fixed price energy plans guarantee the customer a fixed price for each unit of energy they use. In contrast, variable tariffs allow suppliers to raise or lower prices at their own discretion.
The simple reason is to save money. If you’ve not compared energy prices – never mind switched energy supplier – for a year or more, then it’s highly likely you’re paying far more for your gas and/or electricity deal than you need to. Even if you were on a fixed price deal, you may have been rolled onto your supplier’s standard variable rate tariff when it ended. This tariff can change without notice and is generally the most expensive on offer. If this is the case, you should compare gas and electricity prices to see how much you can save by switching.
That's what Anita Staples did:
"My biggest saving would have to be on my gas and electric bill. I used to be with a supplier that was charging me £115 a month. I compared the deals that were out there and ended up switching energy suppliers which saved me £35 a month and £420 on my energy that year alone. Now I always check to see what’s out there when my renewal is due."
Anita Staples, Uswitch study participant
Most people sign up to fixed deals to get a cheap deal on energy. Unlike standard variable tariffs, the rates charged for each unit of energy is set in stone. Sign up for a fixed price deal, and you protect yourself from unexpected price rises for the duration of your contract. Fixed deals aren’t always the cheapest available, but they’re a good place to start.
There’s no single energy supplier who’s the cheapest for everyone – it all depends on where you live, your individual needs and your energy usage. You may discover your best option lies with one of the traditional ‘big six’ energy suppliers, or you may find the best deals can be found with one of the smaller companies trying to make waves in a crowded marketplace. Your best tactic is to compare energy plans across a wide range of suppliers to find the one that offers the best gas and electric deals for you.
Energy comparison websites offer the best way to compare gas and electricity prices – they’re quick, simple to use and provide you with as complete a view of the market as possible. Some energy comparison sites have exclusive deals, while other tariffs may not apply to where you live, so you won’t necessarily see every plan that’s available. You should get a pretty comprehensive overview of what options are likely to be best for you, though – not just by price, but other factors too such as customer service or whether the tariff offers renewable energy. You'll also need to make sure you're searching for deals you can actually switch to - for example, if you don't have any gas appliance, you'll need to search for electricity-only deals.
The key thing you’ll need to provide when looking to compare energy tariffs is a reasonably accurate record of your current energy usage to ensure the energy price comparison sites can match you to the best deals based on your consumption. Start with your last energy bill and look for the latest reading (in kWh). Entering this enables the system to provide an accurate estimate of your personal projection – the amount you’re likely to pay over the following 12 months if you stick to your current plan. It can then reveal how much you could save by switching to one of its recommended deals.
There are several types of energy tariff available to customers. These include:
Renewable energy tariffs, also known as ‘green tariffs’, are plans that use renewable energy where possible to reduce the effects of your energy use on the environment. They typically use 100% renewable electricity from sources including wind and hydroelectricity, plus aim to offset some of the carbon emissions from your gas.
Dual fuel energy plans include both gas and electricity, so if you use both forms of energy you can easily receive them from a single supplier instead of having to sign up for two different deals.
If you’re one of the four million homes in the UK who exclusively uses electricity to power and heat your home (or if you prefer to get separate gas and electricity tariffs), then an electricity-only tariff is just for you. If you only use electricity, as noted above, you may find it easier to get a renewable electricity deal than those who use gas.
If you solely heat your home with gas (or you have separate gas and electricity tariffs from separate providers), you should concentrate on gas-only tariffs when comparing energy options.
These tariffs are among the most popular on the market because they guarantee that the price you pay for each unit of energy you consume is fixed for the duration of your contract. Fixed price tariffs tend to run for 12 or 18 months, so stay aware of when your plan is due to end, as you may be rolled on to the company’s more expensive standard variable tariff.
If you rent as opposed to owning your home, then it’s likely you can still take advantage of energy comparison sites and switch your energy supplier as a tenant – particularly if it’s your name on the energy bill. You’ll need to speak to your landlord if they pay the energy bills or include the cost of energy in your rent.
You’re not obligated to switch to another energy supplier if you find your current supplier offers the best deals. Just remember to check your current deal – if it’s a standard variable tariff, you should be able to switch to a fixed deal with no problems; if you’re on a fixed deal, check there are no penalties for switching.
You need the following information to conduct an energy comparison: your current supplier and tariff, your property details, and your energy usage. This will ensure the deals you see show the correct gas and electric prices based on an accurate assessment of your own consumption.
If you then find a deal you want to switch to, you’ll need to supply your own personal and bank details so the new energy company can take over your gas and/or electricity supply.
Most energy suppliers are part of the Energy Switch Guarantee, which commits to completing any switch to another supplier without issues within 21 days. You also have a 14-day cooling off period, allowing you to cancel the switch if you change your mind.
If you decide against switching, you’ll eventually be moved to your supplier’s standard variable tariff, which could see you paying a lot more for your energy than you need to. It’s obviously your choice, but if you want to save money on your energy deal, make sure you know when any fixed deal you might currently be on is coming to an end. This ensures you can switch in good time to get the best possible deal without incurring an early exit fee.